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UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS

COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE

ASSIGNMENT NO. 1:

THE RELIGIONS OF INDIA

Aranas, Rodolfo III D.


3AR 8
June 20, 2012

AR. Abelardo Firmeza


HOA3

INTRODUCTION

The land of India has given birth to a variety of religions. Few, if not most, of which still
exist up to this day. Religion in India is nothing short of a way of life. The most dominant of
which is Hinduism. An estimated 82% of Indias population practice Hinduism. It is said that
Hinduism developed 5000 years ago as one of the oldest, most ancient religion in the entire
world. Hinduism may have developed a few variations and divisions, but these however still
have a certain familiarity with its origin.
After the advent of Hinduism a few more religions came to be, either branching or
developing from an earlier religion or coming from the influence of foreigners that have
interacted in some way or another with the people of India. Buddhism developed in India about
500 BC. Buddhism was particularly appealing to some Indians and those who practiced it even
spread it to other kingdoms. It is now one of the major religions of the world and has exists in
many different variations. These three religions came to be the first primary molders of Indian
philosophy. Jainism developed about the same time as Buddhism. It rose against Hinduism as
it was seen as the source of much corruption during the time. The philosophy behind it is total
abstinence and asceticism.
The coming of the modern period also brought about the development of more modern
religions. Sikhism is a particularly new religion established during the 16 th century. It rose as a
reaction to Hinduism and Islam.
Some religions came to India by means of interaction by foreign influences and
colonizers that have come across the land. In the 8th century, Islam arrived in India by way of
Arab traders and its spread across the India during the 12 th, 16th and 17th centuries with the
Muslim invasion and the Mughal rulers respectively. It is the youngest of the three major
monotheistic religious systems popular in the world today. Along with Islam, Christianity is one
of three of the major monotheistic systems that came upon India. It is said to have come with St.
Thomas, The Apostle. Zoroastrianism arrived in India in the 10th century. It is the first religious
system that expounded a dualistic philosophy, the opposition of good and evil, that is. Judaism
also exists in India and is the smallest of the religious denominations.
A few other religions developed in India in the shadow of the dominant ones. Some
religions strive to be portrayed as a completely different variation of the already existing
religions but are not usually given the recognition. They are only considered by many as sects
of the more dominant religions that compose India. There exist attempts on creating new
religions in India. Din-E-Elahi, a religion established by the Moghul Emperor Akbar did not
receive much acclaim and did not survive in the end.
The above religions are the most dominant religions that thrive in India today. Some are
apparently more dominant than others. None the less, each is of great significance in its own
respect.

1. HINDUISM
Hinduism is an ancient and very complex belief system. Its origin can be traced at the end of
the prehistoric civilizations in the Indus valley region of India and Pakistan. It is more a way of
life than a religion to those who believe it, and involves a vast variety of rituals and practices. It
does not have specific founder and has continually developed and is still developing today. It
gave rise to both Buddhism and Jainism. Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and
most of the Hindu population lives in India.
The etymology of the word Hinduism is more geographic than it is religious. It came from
sindhu, an ancient name of the Indus River. In time the name was used to refer to the Indians
who had the religious practices of whom we now know as Hindus.
The Vedas, the sacred texts of the Hindus, contain hymns, prayers and ritual directions. Rig
Veda is the oldest, Upanishads contains discussions on the Vedas and, Bhagavad Gita which
examines the nature of God and how mortals can now him. Hinduism is a monotheistic religion
with a polytheistic practice. It has a large variety of Gods and Goddesses, most of which have
different names and various images as well. The three lords that rule the world according to the
Hindus are: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and, Shiva the destroyer.
It is good to note that all the Gods and Goddesses are worshipped by all Hindus. Some
only worship one of three Gods; whilst some worship all Gods, and sometimes, certain Gods
are worshipped more in a certain area. Hindus worship many aspects of a Supreme Being,
Brahma as separate Gods and Goddesses for instance. No formal structure of worship exists in
Hinduism although it is most commonly one at home by an individual or with the family. In a
temple, individual worship is aided by a priest while a communal setting usually consists of
prayers and readings from the Vedas. The Hindus also believe in karma and reincarnation, the
former are the deeds of man both good and bad and affects how the reincarnation will go for
them. A better life exists if an individual has good karma while a poorer one with bad.
Hinduism is a dynamic religion. It is innovative and continuative. Innovative because it
adapts endlessly the contemporary conditions yet it still preserves much of the original and
traditional philosophical framework, and continuative because it retains its original traditional
philosophical frameworks.

2. BUDDHISM
Buddhism is a religion largely based on the teachings and life of its founder Siddhartha
Gautama or Buddha the enlightened one (563-483 BCE). His teachings focus on the
elimination of desire to achieve a better sense of life and avoidance suffering. The teachings are
based on the concept of the middle way, which means avoiding the extremes: pleasure and
pain. It is said that Siddhartha journeyed far and wide and saw the grief that gripped man. His
journey ended as he sat under a Bo tree (bohdi meaning enlightenment and wisdom) and

finally found enlightenment. The path of moderation is the central belief of Buddhism; taking
everything in moderation.
Buddhism was developed in reaction the dominant religion of the time, Hinduism, and
the present condition that India was in the day. He preached a religion without authority, ritual,
examination of lifes meaning, tradition, creator-God, or mystery and spiritualism. He instead set
up an approach to leave ones feelings of emptiness behind: the eightfold path.
After his death, his followers began a formalization of Buddhism. Since no writings were
left to followers, they instead had a council and decided to accumulate the teachings and
agreeing upon a common ground. These later became the official texts of Buddhism: Pali
Canon, known also as Tipitaka. In time however a split occurred as the School of Elders known
as the Theravada focused on personal enlightenment and the other group, on helping other
people achieve enlightenment. The latter group came to be known as the Mahayana, or
majority. Buddhism gradually spread throughout Asia by the work of Emeperor Ashoka, or
Asoka, of Maurya. He was converted after a bloody journey to power and alas devoted himself
to peace, sending missionaries as far and wide reaching even Egypt and Greece. It reached Sri
Lanka, China, Cambodia, Thailand, and China. It even spread in the West, although that came
much later in the 17th and 18th century. In India, it experienced a decline, with the succession of
Emperor Sunga (185-73 BCE). Buddhists were prosecuted far and wide and their temples
destroyed. Even in Buddhas native land, it declined, and gradually came to an end, recovering
to 1% of the population in the late 20th century.
Buddhists worship at temples, stupas (rock pillars), Buddhist centers, or in their own
homes at small shrines. Worship is made by a group or individually. Buddha is often used to
refer to a spiritual leader who has achieved nirvana or complete enlightenment.

3. JAINISM
Jainism was founded by one of the central in Jain history, Mahavira, and it is often referred
to as Jain Dharma. Records about its origin are scarce and a certain date cannot be pinpointed
although scholars believe it to be about 850 BCE. The dates as to which Mahavira lived are
uncertain but evidence points that it overlapped that of the Buddha.
Jains do not believe in a creator-God and is considered more as a philosophy of life rather
than a religion. The Five Great Vows are the core of Jainism: (1) Ahimsa, not killing or injuring
all living things, (2) Satya, speaking only the truth, (3) Asteya, not taking, stealing, and being
greedy, (4) Brahmacharya, not having sex (celibacy), and giving up all sensual pleasure, and
(5) Aparigraha, detachment or not being neither delighted or disturbed by any outward
experience. Another core belief is that all creation is made of living souls therefore all should
respected.
Mahavira is considered the originator of Jainism. Jains have a belief that at different times
the truth has been revealed to figures called tirthankara, meaning maker of the ford and that
these figures have been freed from the cycle of death and rebirth. Jina is another term used to

refer to these figures. Jina means the conqueror, and it is from this word that Jainism is
derived from. Jina or tirthranka is the Jain counterpart of saints among Jews, Christians and
Muslims.
The Purvas are the chief sacred texts of Jainism, fourteen of which are now lost. A wide
range of texts are regarded by the Jains, from those written a thousand years ago to the more
recent ones which contain commentaries. The Akaranga Sutra is one widely used text which
contains the teachings Mahavira. Jain worship is consists of daily prayers and meditation, and
temple worship where people mediate, pray and have religious discussions. They put little
emphasis on formal prescribed worship.

4. SIKHISM
Sikhism receives its name from the Sanskrit word that means disciple of learner. Its origin
is traced in the fifteenth century in the Punjab region, now India and Pakistan. It is still principally
and Indian religion, although its origins are still subject to some speculation. Some historians
argue that it is a combination of other Indian religions, while others believe it is a purification or
renewal of Hinduism. Sikhs however believe that the religion is unique and renounce any
relation attributed to other religions.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539) is its founder. He adopted monotheism and rejected
the belief of external worship over internal worship. Equally he rejected Hinduism and its
practices and as well as what he saw was the intolerance of Indian Muslims. He opposed the
caste system of the Hindus that promoted divide and classification but adapted Islams
monotheism and the promotion of brotherhood. Sikhisms core belief in religion is that it is to
create a close relationship with God through prayer and meditation. The God of the Sikhs is one
without form and eludes depiction. The religion retains certain concepts from Hinduism such as
samsara, being the endless cycle of life, and karma.
The Sikhs also thrive outside India, mainly in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United
States; smaller communities are found in east Africa and Malaysia. It is the ninth-largest religion
of the world. Sikhism has had conflict with Islam from the mid-1400s when the Punjab region
was in the control of the Muslims. They in turn made a move to defend religious tolerance not
only of their religion but Hinduism as well.
The Sikhs believe in a single God in the authority of the ten living gurus, and in the sacred
Sikh scripture, the Granth Sahib. The God of the Sikhs is referred to in several names,
Waheguru (The Wonderful Lord), Ek Onkar (True God), Onkar, Satguru (True Guru),
Satnaam (True Name), Akal-Purkh, Hari, Raam, and Pritam. Worship is usually conducted
through private worship or in temples called gurdwaras, where readings from the Granth Sahib
are its core.

5. ISLAM

Islam is the religion dominant in the Middle East, North Africa, and much of Southeast Asia.
Muslim (bianna musliman meaning submitted ourselves to God) is used to refer to those
who have Islam as their religion. Islams origin can be traced to the early 7 th century Mecca of
the Arabian Peninsula which his now Saudi Arabia today. It is believed that Muhammad, Islams
prophet, began having revelations and prophecies from the archangel Jabrail (Gabriel), and
that these revelations and prophecies continued up to his death, closely recorded by his
followers and became the sacred scripture of Islam: Quran. Islam was called
Muhammadanism but was found offensive by the Muslim since Muhammad is considered only
a prophet and not a Godlike entity.
The Muslims believed in only in one God, Allah, a name derived from the Arabic phrase alilah, meaning One True God. The core beliefs of Islam include the belief of God, Allah, and
Allahs messenger, the angels. Muslims believe in many prophets which include Muhammad,
Moses, Abraham and Jesus Christ to name a few. Its core beliefs also include one of The
Last Day in which the world ends; Allahs judgment of human affairs and, life after death. Islam
is the worlds second largest religion.
There are no formal rituals that oversee the becoming of a Muslim. Instead, the person must
recite the shahadah, or the declaration of faith, in front of two witnesses. T his de-claration
consists of the words Ashahadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ashahadu ann Muhammadar
Rasulullah, or I declare there is no god except God, and I declare that Muhammad is the
Messenger of God.
Meccas religion in the 6th century was dominated by idolatry, or worship of physical objects
such has statues as if they were Gods. Mecca was an important stop in the trading route in the
seventh century and was of assistance to the local economy as it garnered revenues from
travelers and merchants alike. Muhammad was opposed to this but was also concerned with the
local economy. He therefore launched a movement that became one of the worlds most
significant monotheistic religions. There are no physical symbols or representations in Islam
because it has been forbidden.
The core of Islamic worship is daily prayer (salat), conducted either individually, in the
family, or at a mosque with other Muslims. Muslim men are also required to attend a Friday
sermon at a mosque. ThemajortextofIslamisthe
Quran, the word of God revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims also rely on the
Sunnah, or the life example of the Prophet that includes the hadiths, or sayings, for guidance in
matters of faith and morality. Islam has two major sects that sprouted due to the arguments as
to who was succeed Muhammad after his death. Sunni Islam is the dominant sect which
means orthodox and believed that Abu Bakr, the father of Muhammads second wife, was to
succeed him. The opposition was Shiite or Shite Islam which believed that a blood
descendant of the Prophet is the rightful successor: Ali ibn Abi Talib or simly, Ali.

6. CHRISTIANITY

Christianity is a religion built around the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (6 BCE
30 BC), also known as Jesus Christ. Its ideology is from the concept of salvation and
eternal life for its followers. The Bible is the sacred text of Christianity. Three main branches
exist today: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Church and Protestantism. It is
further divided and has reached over a thousand divisions, which may primarily retain core
beliefs but with varied organizational system and is probably the worlds most divided
religion. Christianity is the worlds largest religion with much of it concentrated in Europe and
North & South America.
The foundation of Christianity is based on Historical events. As said earlier it was based
on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, prior to his birth, growing up, and his separation with his
parents, his becoming of a teacher and spreading the word of love and peace with his
disciples his death, and finally his resurrection. It was believed that Jesus had the power to
heal and proved to more powerful after death and resurrection. He became to be known as
chistos or the anointed one which has similar meaning to messiah, a person sent by
God to free the Jews, in the Jewish bible.
The god is Christianity is called God, also known as Lord or The Father. Jesus
is believed to be the son of the father. The concept of the Trinity makes God a combination
of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The cross is the simplified sketch or version
of the fish and these two are the most dominant Christian symbols. The church is home to
religious services in Christianity where praying, observing the sacraments or rites of Baptism
and Communion is done. The Bible, the sacred text of Christianity, consists of the Old
Testament, the Jewish origin and, The New Testament which was written after the time of
God.
Christianity was subjected to much persecution at the earliest days of its existence under
the rule of Roman emperors who did not want authority to be challenged by this new found
religion. It was not until the 4 th century that it spread significantly, from Spain, even Persia
(now Iran) and India. It was further accepted as a religion when Emperor Constantine
declared a policy on religious tolerance in 313. With mainstream acceptance however,
arguments were followed by divisions which were mainly due to differences and quarrels on
doctrine (ideals). It was finally settled after much council conventions; the Nicene Creed
which is the belief in one God with three aspects.

7. ZOROASTRIANISM
The origins of this religion still remain uncertain but some historians believe it to be older
than Judaism. If that holds true, then Zoroastrianism is the worlds first monotheistic religion.
Zarathusthra or Zarathustra (10,000 BCE) was the prophet that founded the religion. The
Zoroastrians believe in the God, Ahura Mazda, supreme creator and source of all truth. Life
for the Zoroastrians is a conflict of good and evil, the component of evil being and aspect of
Ahura Mazda, called Spenta Mainyu. Mazdayansa is another variation to the religions
name, meaning Worship of Wisdom.

Zoroastrianism gradually spread throughout the Middle East and further into India. A
distinction is made between Indian Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Iranian Zoroastrians in the
21st century. The religion is relatively small compared to others; some sources go as far to
saying that is in the brink of extinction. This may not be the case however, as the
Zoroastrian have been persecuted and it was only later that it came to be properly
acknowledged as a religion, notably in India. The population may not have increased, rather,
more people started acknowledging it because it is believed that conversion is not possible
and that one must be born a Zoroastrian to be one.
Much of the Zoroastrian worship is done individually and consists of prayers conducted
in fire temples, named so because a sacred flame must always be maintained inside. The
Zoroastrians have three primary symbols: the Fire which represents the wisdom and
creative energy of Ahura Mazda; White being the symbol of purity and Faravahar, the bird
with its wings spread symbolizing the human connection with Ahura Mazda.

8. JUDAISM
Judaism refers to both the religion and to a nation of people with close cultural ties.
History has seen the Jews often as members of a race but the existence of Asian, Black
and, White Jews, it can be observed the being a Jew is a matter of choice. Jews refer to
themselves as a Nation in social sense rather than a political one; a shared history and view
of the future. Differences have occurred in the various communities of the Jews but all
however share a core of beliefs: The belief in one eternal, nonmaterial, supreme God who
passes judgments on his people; the belief in the accuracy of the Tanakh, or Jewish Bible;
belief in prophets, the Messiah, or savior and the resurrection of the dead.
At the time Judasim developed, people of the region called the Middle East practiced
polytheism. Judaism arose in the 4000 to 3000 BCE, during the Bronze Age and, promoted
the worship of only one God. It was relatively new and challenged the already accepted
beliefs, causing it to face an array of challenges as well. Its history is recorded in the first five
books of Tanakh, collectively called Torah. They have been continually persecuted by the
Babylonians, and the Persian after them; their temples built and rebuilt due to persecution
and the desire of the respective authority to eradicate them.
Jews use the name God, although a couple of common names for god also exist in the
Hebrew Bible: Yahweh and Elohim. The worship place for Jews is temples or synagogues.
The center of Jewish Liturgy is reading from the Torah, although prayers and blessings are
also included. Besides the Tanakh, and Torah, the Talmud also exists as interpretations and
applications of the Torah.

DENOMINATION OF RELIGION IN INDIA

HINDUISM - about 82%

BUDDHISM - about 0.7%

ISLAM - about 12%

JAINISM - about 0.5%

CHRISTIANITY - about 2.5%

ZOROASTRIANISM - about 0.01%

SIKHISM - about 2%

JUDAISM - about 0.0005%

REFERENCES:
Oneal , M. & Jones, J. ed. Schlager, N. & Weisblatt, J. (2001) World Religions Alamanac.
Volume I and II. USA: Thomson Gale Corporation.
Ross, L. (2009). Art and Architecture of the World Religions. USA: Greenwood Press.
Religions in India <http://adaniel.tripod.com/religions.htm > [accessed 18/06/12]
Indias

Relgio

and

Philosophy

<http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/india/religion.htm

AsianInfo.org> [accessed 18/06/12]